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The Site's Evolution:

Thomas James likely built his store so it faced on Main Street (marked here by a vehicle). By 1835 it was one of four “mercantile stores” in the Mathews Courthouse area listed in Martin’s Gazetteer. Ten years later, James sold his store and land. Soon thereafter, the new owners evidently moved the store to the backlot and put-up a larger building on Main Street. That building itself was pushed back (center right) about 1899 to make way for an even bigger store, built by James’s grandchildren, Henry and Francis Joseph Sibley, who had recently acquired the property. Sibley descendants operated Sibley's Store (
photos) until its sale in 1989. Thus, this remarkably complete historic site has served as a retail center in the heart of Mathews County for almost 200 years, mostly under one family. It is now listed as Sibley's and James Store Historic District on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places. The Mathews County Historical Society owns Thomas James Store; the nearly half-acre lot on which it sits is owned by the Mathews County Visitor and Information Center. The historical society will open the James store for public display and interpretation in the future.